Fans of "Ace of Cakes" have always wanted two things. They wanted their own cake from Charm City Cakes, and they wanted to stop by the Remington bakery and have a look around. But even the basic wedding cake costs $750 (never mind the sculpted specialty cakes), and the bakery has always been off-limits to visitors.
Starting Monday, Charm City Cakes began offering a new option on its website it's calling "Cakes for Two." Each of the pre-designed cakes sells for $250 and can be picked up in person.
"We always wanted to be able to give everyone what they wanted," says Mary Alice Yeskey, Charm City Cake's director of marketing. "When the TV crew was here, it was so frenetic. There wasn't time to think strategically about what we wanted to do with the shop. When the TV show stopped, we all exhaled."
Customers will be able to specify the cake flavor of their Cake for Two (which actually serves 15). The website points out that while a few of the cakes can be personalized with details like names and ages, they are not the custom designs that were seen being produced on the television show.
The designs are witty and charming, and $250 strikes me as a reasonable price for someone who's willing to pay it. Most of the major life occasions are covered — birthdays, weddings, new babies. Some designs, like a crab bushel cake and the Star Wars-inspired Imperial Stormtrooper cake, are just for fun.
The team is welcoming ideas for new cakes from its fans and customers, who can submit them on the website.
For the show's fans, the incentive is the opportunity to swing by the bakery to pick up the cake. Charm City Cakes will open itself up for pickups for one hour only every day from Tuesday to Saturday. The limited window is designed to allow the staff to stop working and interact with customers in the bakery's reception area. From there, customers will be able to see the whole operation.
Yeskey says clients are often surprised to discover that the bakery plant is "all one big room." It doesn't look that way on television.
A word of caution: If you're not coming by to pick up a cake, you might not be allowed into the bakery.
"We're still not a retail operation," Yeskey says.
Charm City Cakes is at 2936 Remington Ave. Call 410-235-9229 or go to charmcitycakes.com/cakesfortwo
Breakfast is Tiffin-y The folks at Atwater's in Catonsville, the company's central bakery (formally known as Atwater's Naturally Leavened Bread), have installed a seating area for customers on the second floor of its historic Frederick Avenue building. And in December, Atwater's began offering its customers a walk-in lunch option and has just recently added a Sunday brunch.
The brunch is served in tiffin boxes, tiered containers popular in India and Pakistan. The tiffin boxes are just the thing for carrying an Atwater's soup up to the second floor, according to general manager Donna Grant. The tiffin stack on weekdays includes a soup, a bread and a sweet, and is limited to a few daily choices — typically, one is vegetarian. The price range is $6.95 to $7.95.
Now customers can come in for Sunday brunch, when there are more choices.
Tier 1 might be a choice of granola parfait, dilled potato salad or a green salad; tier 2, a main course like baked ham-and-egg pie, vegetarian pot pie or potato leek soup; and tier 3, a sweet or pastry.
Customers can purchase (and personalize) their very own tiffin box for $14.95, and when they do, they will have it filled with one complimentary lunch. (Alternately, if they give the tiffin box as a gift, it will include a voucher for the complimentary lunch.)
And each time a tiffin box is brought back in, 50 cents (the approximate savings for Atwater's) will be donated to charity.
Atwater's Naturally Leavened Bread is at 815 Frederick Road, Catonsville. Call 410-747-4120 or go to 410-747-4120.
Not leaving yet Caesar's Den owners Tina and Guido De Franco have put their Little Italy restaurant, Caesar's Den, on the rental block. There is no firm date for the closing of the restaurant, which opened in 1970. Let me say that again, in a different way: Caesar's Den will remain open until the De Francos find someone to lease the restaurant space.
I spoke with Guido De Franco, who told me that the restaurant's fans have plenty of time to come by for a visit. "It could be three months, six months, or nine months."
De Franco said that he and his wife are retiring. "The kids are taken care of now," he said. "I've been doing this for a long time. We're here six or seven days a week."
When I reviewed the restaurant back in February, I wrote about the old-fashioned appeal of Caesar's Den, its simple, straightforward menu and its modest, homey atmosphere.
Caesar's Den is at 223 S. High St. Call 410- 547-0820 or go to caesarsden.com.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times